We don’t have much to go on at the moment, but according to a new Reuters story, big changes could be coming to North Korea.A source close to both Pyongyang and Beijing told Reuters’ Benjamin Kang Lim that farmers will soon be allowed to keep half their crop:
“Peasants will have incentive to grow more food. They can keep and sell in the market about 30-50 per cent of their harvest depending on the region,”
The move appears to be an attempt to lightly reform the North Korean economy so that the famines of the 1990s would not be repeated. The incentive would mark a reversal of a clampdown on private enterprise that began in 2005, and appears to be directed at rising rice prices widely reported by overseas press.
The news also echoes a New York Times article from earlier this year.
There have been other signs that reform has been coming to North Korea. Kim Jong-un only took over from his father, Kim Jong Il as supreme leader of the country in December. However, Foreign observers have already noted a change in leadership style, and an apparent embrace of South Korean fashion on the streets.
There also appears to have been strife in the North Korean leadership. After one senior general was forced into retirement earlier this year, there were reports of a gun battle between forces loyal to Kim and those loyal to the ousted Ri Yong-ho. Reports at the time suggested that Kim wanted to end the military’s control of the country’s economy.
Observers have also noted that North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly are planning to meet on September 25th. The People’s Assembly has already met once this year, and meetings of more than once per-annum have generally been rare.
Reuters’ source advices not to expect too much from the meeting, adding that it will be used to discuss an “economic adjustment”. However, he or she added that North Korea may be hoping to follow China’s “reform and opening up” strategy, but seeking to avoid labelling it as such.
“It won’t be called ‘reform and opening up’ because it sounds like ‘dog fart’ in Korean,” the source told Reuters.
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